What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Random Observations About Deutschland (R.O.A.D)

Filed under: R.O.A.D. — dave @ 5:38 pm 2015/10/31

New category alert… Ever since we moved to Germany (yeah, I know I haven’t posted about that, yet. I have a post or three pending about how that came about, but if I waited until that was done, I’d never get to the fun stuff!) there have been a number of things I’ve noticed that make living here, um, different than living in the US.

So I thought I’d start a fun thread of things that are different here. And I mean no more or less than that; they’re different, not wrong, not weird (well, there are some things that are just downright weird, but that might just be me. Yeah, mostly me), just different. And there are plenty of things to write about. Puh-lenty.

I’ll start off with shopping carts. Why shopping carts? Because one of the main jobs in this new gig is feeding the 21 high school boys in my charge, and that means food is needed. Lots of it. So I spend way more time pushing shopping carts in grocery stores than I ever dreamed possible.

Shopping carts in the US are pretty standard fare, and I never really gave them much thought; metal or plastic baskets, two swivel wheels on the front, two fixed wheels in the back, a spot for a kidling to sit close to whomever is pushing, etc… One of our neighbors, a retired gentleman, worked part time at a grocery store for a while, and would talk about having to collect shopping carts from the parking lot; that made me think a little more about carts in recent years, and made me a bit more mindful of where I left my carts when I was done with them. It also annoyed me when I saw others leave them standing out in the middle of the parking lots or just shoved together in the corrals with no concern for who is going to have to sort them out. Pity the poor grocery store employee who draws the short straw and has to go out to gather up carts in the cold of winter on an ice & snow covered lot. And if the parking lot is wet, icy, or cold, the chances that the shoppers will leave their carts in weird places increases.

The Europeans have come up with a totally ingenious way to avoid all the hassles of cart wrangling; each cart has a little chain attached to the handle with an end that fits into a lock slot on the handle of another cart. To unlock a cart, you simply stick a coin (50 cent or 1 or 2 Euro) into a slot in the handle. When you return the cart and snap the chain from the next cart into the lock on yours you get your coin back.

The deposit coin is all the incentive that’s needed to get the customer to return the cart. In the US, without that incentive, people just assume that someone will take care of it, so they don’t think twice about leaving it wherever or leaving a mess in the cart corral.

It sounds like some Canadian stores have also started using this system; the US market would be wise to follow suit. A couple of the stores we’ve visited had lock boxes on the carts that looked to be add-ons; a quick Google search led me to Maciver Enterprises, who markets a retrofit “Kartloc” system. I’m sure introducing a new system like that wouldn’t be without a few hiccups on startup, but I think people would adopt it readily, and it would be totally worth it.

One gripe I have about the shopping carts is that they have four swivel wheels, which makes steering them a pain in the neck. And the knees, and the back. In the US, the rear wheels are fixed and the front wheels swivel, which makes it far easier to keep a cart going in one direction. But with swivel wheels on all four… negotiating a turn in the store – especially with a full load in the cart – takes a bit of doing. Get that same cart on an uneven surface, like in the parking lot, and it’s next to impossible to get it to go in a straight line. This guy explains the issue pretty well:

I guess having four swivel wheels makes the carts easier to push around the stores, which are generally smaller than what I’m used to, have narrower aisles, and are more crowded… At least when the cart only has a small number of items in it. But when the cart is heaped with the quantity of stuff we buy on a regular basis, the four swivel wheel thing fails miserably. The one store I’ve visited that had fixed rear wheels was Carrefour in France; that store is a bit larger than most around here, but the aisles are just as crowded and narrow as most others, so I’m not sure what motivated them to deviate from the others.

And yet another thing that makes grocery trips difficult is the way you deal with the groceries after they pass by the checker. In the US, there is typically an area behind the checker that’s as large or larger than the belt in front of the checker where the groceries can be put so that a bagger can pack them up for you. Here though, store employees don’t bag for you (they don’t provide bags either); all the groceries get put in a small spot behind the checker, and you need to put them into something. Usually we put the groceries back into the cart, then push the cart to the parking lot where we have a number of plastic bins to hold the groceries until we get them home. With the volume of groceries we buy, and some of the large quantities, you really need to be on the ball so that your ten cartons of milk don’t end up on top of the bread or vegetables you already put into the cart. That is easily the most stressful time of shopping, except when the cashier rattles off a question in German and you have no clue what she just said or how to respond. Did she ask, “Would you like the promotional points with your purchase?” or “Are you as stupid as you look?” I guess it all works to keep life interesting, and to keep me humble.

BMWotD – 1995 e34 5 series V12 6spd Conversion

Filed under: BMW Of The Day — Tags: , , , , , — dave @ 3:25 pm 2015/10/27


Here’s a unique car that is up for sale in the Burlington, KY, area. The owner/seller could just as well call it a 550i; it’s a 5-series with a 5-liter V12 engine under the hood.


An Old Fashioned Christian

Filed under: Faith & Worship — dave @ 4:27 am 2015/09/19

This article could serve as a modernized version of the Apostle’s Creed or Nicene Creed to reaffirm the basics of what it means to be a Christian.

Of course there are segments of that article that would rankle some Christians in the US and Europe today, what with the statements about a literal six-day, 144-hour Creation event, and the strict interpretation of marriage.

Many think that modern advances in science should give rise to adjustments in what we believe about these things because after all, the verbiage of the Bible is a product of people in a time in history who didn’t know as much as we know. But if we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then it’s more than just the wisdom of men put into words; much, much more. God put things like the six days of Creation in there in very specific terms so that we could know that that is how he did it.

Likewise, he also intended for marriage to be between one man and one woman. Yes, the Bible tells of men who took multiple wives, but the standard is and always was one man and one woman. The only time same-sex relationships are mentioned, they are accompanied by condemnations of the practice.

Of course my understanding of the things of God is very flawed, but the statement made by the stringing together of these words is probably as good as it gets this side of heaven.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

I Corinthians 13:12

BMWotD — Damn Swedes

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,Racing — dave @ 5:08 pm 2015/08/21


No, that doesn’t look much like a BMW. In fact, it’s a Volvo. Or at least it started out that way when it was new in the 1960’s, but now…


That’s a BMW 4.0L M6x V8, with a little tweaking and forced induction (via a pair of turbochargers) that makes it good for about 750HP. And then it uses the drivetrain from a Nissan GT-R to make it AWD. Judging from the rest of the photos, I’m thinking the engine & drivetrain are just the beginning of the list of modifications done to this car. Not much Volvo left.

It’s for sale on BAT right now for ~$41,000. Lots of money for a car that might not be street-legal, but it sure is nice to look at.

Where Politically Correct Indoctrination Goes Wrong

Filed under: Politics,Work — dave @ 4:02 pm 2015/06/09

This woman, whoever she is, needs to be heard, because what she has to say about the military’s sexual harassment training is spot on.

Kayce M. Hagen is a pen name assumed by an active duty enlisted airman. She wrote the following words to capture her thoughts after attending mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office. I’m publishing her letter here not just because it captures in visceral form a sentiment I’ve heard repeatedly from airmen who are frustrated by increasingly tone-deaf and overwrought approaches to this issue, but also because I believe her input raises (or renews) two important questions. First, what is the current Sexual Assault Prevention program doing for the Air Force? Second, what is it doing to the Air Force? Kayce’s input explores these questions in a powerful way. Enjoy and respond. -Q.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Dear SARC,

I got up this morning as an Airman in the United States Air Force. I got up and I put on my uniform, I pulled back my hair, I looked in the mirror and an Airman looked back. A strong, confident military professional stared out of my bathroom mirror, and I met her eyes with pride. Then I came to your briefing. I came to your briefing and I listened to you talk to me, at times it seemed directly to me, about sexual assault. You talked about a lot of things, about rivers and bridges, you talked about saving people and victimization. In fact you talked for almost a full ninety minutes, and you disgusted me.

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way.

You are the reason I room alone when I deploy. You are the reason that wives are terrified that their husbands are cheating on them when they leave, and I leave with them. When I walk into a room and people are laughing and having a good time, you are the reason they take one look at me and either stop talking or leave. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of me, and it’s because of you. They are afraid that with all of this “power” I have, I can destroy them. They will never respect me or the power and the authority I have as a person, or the power I have as an Airman, because I am nothing more than a victim. That I as a victim, somehow I control their fate. With one sentence, I can destroy the rest of their lives.

“He sexually assaulted me.”

I say enough. He didn’t assault me, you did; and I say enough is enough. If you want to help me, you need to stop calling me a victim. If you want to save me, you need to help me to be equal in the eyes of the people I work with. If you want to change a culture, you need to lessen the gap between men and women, not widen it. Women don’t need their own set of rules: physical training scores, buildings, rooms, raters, sponsors, deployment buddies. When I can only deploy with another woman ‘buddy’ you are telling me and the people around me that I can’t take care of myself. When you forbid me from going into my male friends room to play X-Box on a deployment with the other people on my shift, you isolate me. When you isolate me, you make me a target. When you make me a target, you make me a victim. You don’t make me equal, you make me hated. If I am going to be hated, it will be because of who I am, not because of who you have made me. I am not a victim. I am an American Airman, I am a Warrior, and I have answered my nation’s call.

Help me be what I am, or be quiet and get out of my way.

Sawdust Strata

Filed under: Fun! — Tags: — dave @ 3:18 pm

I needed to sell my table saw a while back, and took this photo as I was cleaning out the sawdust catch drawer. It captured a record of the different projects I had worked on since last cleaning it out. I sure wish I could remember what I had been cutting, and what I was making!


The sawdust makes me think of the dad of a friend I had when I was a kid; Jamie’s dad had a lot of woodworking tools in his garage, and one time while we were passing through the garage, he was busy at the turning lathe. I asked him what he was making; “Sawdust,” was his only reply. Still makes me chuckle.

As for the table saw, I miss that thing. I sold it not long after taking the photo, and even though I hadn’t used it a lot in recent years, there were times it really came in handy. And there have been times since selling it when I could’ve used it.

I Met Messiah

Filed under: Faith & Worship — dave @ 9:07 am 2015/05/11


This is a cool project; video testimonies from Jewish people who have become Christian believers. I first saw Mottel Baleston’s testimony on FB, and then clicked the link to the website… Listening to their testimonies is such a fantastic experience, encouraging in many ways because it shows how God can work through really, really strange way means to reveal the Truth to people.

Classical Gas

Filed under: Fun!,Memory Music — dave @ 12:30 am 2015/04/25

I remember Classical Gas from way back, but I don’t think I knew who the artist — Mason Williams — was. It got a lot of radio airtime I do know I enjoyed the song, and admired the guitar work. The blending of the guitar and orchestra is marvelously done.

I also found a newer rendition of that song with Williams accompanied by Manheim Steamroller. It’s pretty awesome too.

My Empire of Dirt

Filed under: Fun!,Memory Music — dave @ 11:17 pm 2015/04/24

I can’t say I’ve ever heard this song before, but I like it. I like it a lot. Johnny Cash, Dirt.

Someone on the e28 board asked what everyone’s favorite guitar solo was, and I’ve been listening to all manner of guitar work. This was one I stumbled across while listening & poking around. More guitar songs coming!

Good Design

Filed under: Geek,Just Stuff — Tags: — dave @ 8:33 pm 2015/03/28

While cleaning the tub yesterday — an American Standard whirlpool tub — it looked like it was time to clean the whirlpool intake cover. After cleaning it I went to put it back on & discovered an ingenious little detail designed into the cover.
The cover attaches with two screws, but underneath there are six holes on bosses that stand out from the intake into which the screws could fit.
The outside diameter of the cover is larger than outside ring of the intake port, and the center of the cover mates together with the center of the port. At first I thought that it might be difficult to get the screw holes to line up, but then I noticed the tiny tabs on the inside of the two screw holes…
All it takes is to place the cover over the the intake port, rotate it a few degrees clockwise until those tabs bump up against the bosses for the screw holes. The holes in the cover are then aligned perfectly with the holes in the intake port. Perfectly. It’s totally ingenious.

I remember one of my marketing professors saying that good design doesn’t cost any more than bad design; so very true. It would’ve been so easy for the person/team responsible for designing these two pieces to have made them to fit together differently — many lesser outfits would’ve done things differently, but they thought of the assembly process and what would eventually go into cleaning the tub, and put a little bit of thought into making the parts fit together easily and well. Attention to detail like this always impresses me. That something as seemingly obscure as aligning the screw holes when replacing a cover that might come off once in a year (if that) for cleaning would be like this tells me that there are probably lots of other little things deeper inside the workings of this tub that are just as well designed. Put American Standard on my list of products I will buy again.

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